Once again, welcome to you all, to this extraordinary Provincial Grand Lodge meeting. It is good to see so many of you here; in fact we can’t fit any more in!
As you will know we have resorted to having two dining rooms however if you are in the side dining room you will be in good company with the DepProvGM.
I am most grateful to David and Gary from the Centre for arranging a video link to the main dining room so that you will not miss any of the action!
This is a special meeting as part of our Tercentenary Celebrations.
Not only are we celebrating 300 years of Grand Lodge of England but we are also celebrating the 50th anniversary of HRH The Duke of Kent becoming our Grand Master.
As a result it has pleased the Grand Master to allow Provincial Grand Masters to make additional appointments in Provincial Grand Rank.
I have also used my prerogative to promote a number of Brethren. These are therefore unique appointments and promotions, which each recipient can be especially proud of.
The last 12 months have been a very busy one for us all. We have run a number of events to celebrate the tercentenary in Surrey.
We had a Cathedral service, public parades, open days at Centres and more, but I was extremely pleased with the traveling exhibition, which moved around the county during a three-month period in the summer.
The exhibition reached the general public and although it is difficult to gauge the response, this is part of work we must do to take our place in the community of Surrey.
I am very grateful to all involved for their hard work and commitment, in this and all the other events to ensure they ran smoothly.
Grand Lodge also delivered three events, which will remain with me for many years to come.
The unveiling of the V.C stones captured the public’s imagination, the Sky 1 documentary ‘Inside the Freemasons’ helped in busting myths and lastly the culmination of the Tercentenary at the Royal Albert Hall at the end of October.
I believe this was a seminal moment in our history. I don’t think anyone would have believed me if I had told them what the meeting was to comprise of.
The theatrical element was simply stunning. It was one of my proudest moments as a Freemason to be present and to have played my part in the arrangements.
We had a strong Surrey contingent as part of the planning and delivery of the day. Of course our Provincial Grand Stewards were on duty looking after one of the tiers of the Hall. W. Bros Kevin Field and Tony Wright were responsible for designing and implementing the seating plan for the whole hall.
All of them did us proud and performed to the usual high Surrey standard!
Our Festival appeal continues to move forward. We are almost exactly a year away from the climax of the festival. We are progressing well but we do have just under a million pounds to raise.
I am therefore asking Lodges to now give top priority to our Festival Appeal to ensure we raise the sum the RMBI deserve.
Today tickets for the Provincial Grand Master Chef Prize draw as well as the usual Festival Stewards Jewels are on sale. In addition if you have not sponsored either me or one of the team, there are also sponsorship forms downstairs for the Zip Wire, which is taking place in July.
I would say I am looking forward to it but I suspect you know that would not be true!
Tickets for the Festival dinner at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday 11th May 2018 will be on sale very soon.
Places are limited so as soon as they are available I suggest you book a table to avoid disappointment. This will be a great evening.
The Cathedral will look spectacular; there will be first class entertainment, an excellent meal and of course good company.
Putting all of those ingredients together we will be able to celebrate in style.
We are progressing well with the delivery of our Provincial Strategy. You will have also received a copy of the UGLE Pathway scheme, which has been incorporated into our strategy.
We are starting to see signs of success but it is a difficult journey and while some Lodges are doing well others continue to stagnate.
To help the Lodges we have recently introduced Area Mentors who will work with Lodges to improve in the areas of retention and education.
We are also in the process of reshaping our Provincial structure in relation to OVs and their responsibilities to focus upon supporting Lodges and working hands on with them to encourage recruitment initiatives.
I will update you fully on all of these strategies at our Annual Meeting in June.
Membership of the Royal Arch remains one of our priorities. We are doing well in membership numbers and we in the Craft continue to promote the Royal Arch whenever we can.
I have recruited three new Companions for whom I am working part of their Exaltation ceremony.
I challenge my Craft and Royal Arch Executive colleagues to do the same!
Talking of the Executive it is that time of year to announce changes to the Provincial Executive. It is with sadness that today I announce the retirement of two Executive members.
- W.Bro Trevor Rains AProvGM will retire at the Annual Meeting; he will be succeeded by W. Bro Robbie Dobbie PJGD.
- W. Bro Nick Parson will also retire in June and will be succeeded by W. Bro Paul Crockett PAGDC.
Both Trevor and Nick have given exemplary service to our Province both having exceeded their normal tenure of office.
They both leave a legacy they should justly be very proud of and which their successors can feel themselves lucky to be following in their footsteps.
I look forward to presenting them with their collarets in June.
My renewed congratulations to V.W Bro Derek Barr MBE PProvDepGM on his distinguished service award today. It has been a great delight to surprise him in that way.
My renewed congratulations to all of the recipients of a promotion or appointment today. This is your day, which I hope you have enjoyed.
Don’t forget that any rank is a reward for your service thus far but more importantly for your future service to the Province and Freemasonry in general.
All Provincial Grand Officers are expected to play their part in delivering our strategy and securing the future of the Province for generations to come.
Lastly my thanks to everyone who has been involved in the arrangements for today. In asking for this meeting to take place I am acutely aware that I have added another large event into the already busy Provincial calendar.
My grateful thanks to W. Bros Mark Winchester and Ian Turner and all of the office staff for the administration of today.
Well done to the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for ensuring the ceremonial aspects are dealt with in the usual exemplary Surrey way.
My sincere thanks to my Executive, Official Visitors, committees and the army of volunteers who are all working tirelessly for the good of Freemasonry and thereby the good of the community of Surrey.
Lastly thank you to the Centre staff for allowing us to take over the Centre today and for the arrangements you have made.
Brethren all, thank you for your attendance and support today.
Ian Chandler – Provincial Grand Master of Surrey.